Behind standout performances from outside hitter Nick Simons and middle blocker Andre Foster, the Davis High boys volleyball team opened its Delta Valley Conference schedule with a 25-21, 25-13, 22-25, 25-23 win Tuesday night over Franklin at The Cage.
“I think it’s always good to come out for the first (league) game of the season and get a win, so I’m really proud of the guys,” said Blue Devil coach Jordon Friend. “They worked really hard in the preseason. I think that showed (Tuesday). I think we did a lot of really good things.”
DHS (7-6) set the tone with an ace by setter Evan Meerscheidt on the first serve of the first game of the match.
After the teams traded points early in the set, a six-serve run by Richard Lu, which included two aces, put the Devils up 15-7, forcing the Wildcats to call timeout.
Though Franklin did get a couple of points back, the game was never again close as Simons garnered kill after kill to close things out.
Starting Game 2, Davis picked up right where it had left off, jumping out to 10-3 advantage thanks to another six-serve run, this time from defensive specialist Milton Hong.
Simons again was the closer, scoring three of his season-high 16 kills on the last four points of the set.
At the start of the third game, the Blue Devils came out of their hallway talk looking relaxed, with players joking around with one another.
By contrast, being down 2-0 put Franklin in desperation mode and the two teams played even to 15-15 before the Wildcats pulled away.
During that set, Foster was scoring kills by placing the ball where the Franklin defense wasn’t rather than blindly smashing it, but the senior also was hit with a couple of lift violations which gave the Wildcats easy points.
DHS’ defense errors were too much to overcome and the Devils dropped the game in a match they had previously been dominating.
“I think we just lost focus a little bit,” Friend said. “That comes with having a little bit of a younger team. We tend to lose focus sometimes in the third and fourth set, which is something that I would expect us to improve on as the season goes on.”
The fourth set played out much like the third one, with Davis scoring on dynamic offensive play but giving up easy points due to mental errors on the other side of the ball to bring the score once again to 15-15.
“Our offense really was the game (Tuesday),” Friend explained. “They were able to come through regardless of the defense.”
When Foster stepped up and went on a six-serve run, the locals looked like they were taking control at 21-15, but Franklin answered with five straight points.
After a couple of mental mistakes by both squads, the Blue Devil held a 24-23 advantage when Lu killed off the game with a powerful spike that the Wildcats couldn’t control.
It was Lu’s seventh kill of the match, while Foster contributed 11.
“We need to work on being a lot more mentally tough and getting ready for longer rallies against really good teams,” Friend said. “I think the biggest thing we can be working on is being more mentally tough so when we come up against strong teams we’re able to play our game no matter what.”
— Reach Evan Ream at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanReam